Informatics & Surveillance in Global Health: Informatics Capacity for Zika Outbreak


In response to the February 2016 Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak, an inter-agency agreement between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) commissioned further research on the epidemiology, transmission, diagnosis, and birth defects associated with ZIKV. The surveillance and research activities conducted included ecology studies focusing on the transmission dynamics; pregnancy and infant cohort studies to look for birth defects, developmental outcomes and risk factors associated with ZIKV infection; and laboratory studies evaluating the usefulness of multiple Zika diagnostic platforms. These studies were established by either setting up new systems, or leveraging on existing surveillance systems to include ZIKV research specific data elements. Conducted using country-specific protocols, these research systems included key data elements for cross-site analysis. Challenges faced included collection of non-standardized data, differing functional requirements, varying security and confidentiality protocols and limitations of informatics infrastructure. These challenges highlight an opportunity to evaluate and present the informatics-based components necessary to rapidly deploy surveillance and research study activities during a global health emergency situation. We highlight the key challenges and presents strategies for setting up rapid surveillance and research study activities. Additional areas of focus also include system architecture, global partnerships, and workforce development.

Objective: To assess challenges of establishing surveillance and research study systems and present strategies for rapid deployment in global health for the outbreak response.

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Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2019

June 18, 2019

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